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492                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
When commercial questions arise, it is usual to appoint
two arbitrators, one from each side, who go into the
question with care, and as a rule their decision is just.
The merchant class is, indeed, the most trustworthy in
Persia. In conclusion, it is to be noted that no record
is kept of sentences passed, or of the reasons for which
they were passed, under either the religious or the
secular law.
Punishments.—Punishments are still very cruel, every
torture imaginable being practised. A new ruler frequently
tortures the first gang of brigands that he captures, not
from cruelty but in order to inspire terror. Gradually,
however, European influence is humanizing Persian
justice, and fewer cases of burying alive in mortar,
shoeing with horse' shoes and similar punishments are
now heard of. The universal punishment of the sticks,
better known in Europe as the bastinado, cannot be
passed by without notice. It is inflicted on the highest
and on the lowest; and in Persia there is no great loss
of dignity in undergoing the punishment Some twenty
years ago the Kawam-ul-Mulk, the hereditary mayor of
Shiraz, was ordered the sticks by the Governor-General.
In his honour a silk carpet was spread on the ground.
The punished man is said to " eat sticks." It must be
recollected that in a poor country like Persia it is im-
possible to have well regulated prisons ; and consequently
the more summary the punishment the better, if only the
decisions were inspired by justice, and not influenced
by money.
Revenue.—In dealing with the question of revenue,
it may be convenient to take a special province as an
example ; and for this purpose I select Khorasan, with
which I am best acquainted.
Revenue was, and still is,1 collected under the follow-
ing heads :
1.  Taxes on crops and garden produce.
2.  Taxes on tradesmen, artisans, etc.
3.  Poll-tax.
1 The revenue was not taken over by the Belgians until 1913, and at present it is
generally being levied on the old lines, with a gradual improvement of methods.